Starry Eyed

Reader Logo by Shanta Everington


It's National Poetry Day 2012 and I'm standing in the foyer at Luton library with poetry in my head and PowerPoint on my USB stick. A bit of faffing later and I'm installed in a room upstairs, wondering whether anyone has booked onto the Poetry Writing Workshop, which I'm running on behalf of The View from Here magazine for Luton Book Festival.

Emma Darwin interview

Emma Darwin interview 
by Shanta Everington

Emma Darwin was born in London and studied Drama at university. After various jobs including publishing social work books, driving a sandwich van and selling musical instruments, her first novel The Mathematics of Love was published in 2006, and her bestselling second novel, A Secret Alchemy, was part of a PhD in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths. She’s now writing her third, and teaching Creative Writing for the Open University and elsewhere.

Hello Emma and welcome to The View From Here. Let’s start with your debut novel, The Mathematics of Love, which was very well received. It was described by The Washington Book Post as combining the ‘murky moral chaos of the 1970s and the rigid formality of the genteel class in the early 19th century.’ Did you find one era easier to write about than the other?

I was alive in the 1970s, though a bit younger than Anna, so there wasn’t as much research to do, though still some. The 19th century is basically Jane Austen, who I grew up on, so it came fairly naturally. I was thrilled with the Washington Post review, but I must admit that wasn’t the way those two eras felt to me as I was writing; I was mostly aware that if you’re trying to build parallel stories around transgressive sex, then the list of people you’re not supposed to go to bed with in 1819 is much, much longer, which makes plotting much easier, while the time that letters and coaches take to get places complicates things.